Psychiatrists say parents shouldn’t shelter children from struggles, but help them cope

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Governor Pritzker extended Illinois’ shelter-in-place order through May, Thursday.

The reality of COVID-19 and its impact on the world could push more parents to have tough conversations with their children.

Dr. Keila Sierra-Cintron, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at UnityPlace, said honesty is the best policy with children.

“These health care crises and being transparent and honest with our kids about what it is,” Dr. Sierra said. ” It’s important to just do it in an age appropriate way.”

Dr. Sierra said open dialogues with children on certain subjects may seem difficult but will be worthwhile in the long run.

“Create an environment where kids are open to talk about their concerns and not shut those concerns down because down the road those could cause some long term issues,” Dr. Sierra said.

Kevin Carroll, the Vice President of Behavioral Health at Unity Point, said the COVID-19 crisis could actually teach kids valuable skills.

“Parents should really put away the bubble wrap,” Carroll said. “By that, I mean that it’s great for packaging but we shouldn’t try to insulate our kids so much to the struggles and the challenges that everyone is facing today. This is a great opportunity for kids to build resilience and develop some new skills and cope with ambiguity.”

Dr. Sierra also said parents should also be aware of how they react to what they see on television as children can easily pick up on body language.

“Some kids may perceive and look at what’s happening on the TV and may not necessarily understand or comprehend they may just go by what the parents reaction is all about,” Dr. Sierra said.

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